Florida Enacts New Texting Ban Law
Last month, Florida lawmakers enacted a new law that makes texting while driving a primary offense, which means that law enforcement officers are now allowed to pull motorists over and issue citations solely for texting while driving. Although the law officially goes into effect on July 1st of this year, drivers found in violation of the statute will not be issued citations, but will only receive warnings until January 1st of 2020. To learn more about the passage of this law and how it could affect your own rights to compensation following an accident caused by a distracted driver, please contact one of our Fort Lauderdale auto accident attorneys today.
Before the passage of House Bill 107, driving while texting was a secondary offense in Florida, which meant that police officers were not permitted to pull drivers over merely for texting while operating their vehicle. Instead, officers could only cite drivers for texting after detaining them for another primary offense, such as a moving violation.
In addition to making the act of texting while driving a primary offense in Florida, the new law also prohibits the use of handheld phones in any way in construction zones, designated school crossing areas, and school zones. The only exception to this rule applies in emergencies, in which case, drivers can use their phones to seek assistance even when in a school or construction zone.
As a primary offense, texting while driving is now punishable by the same fines as those issued for noncriminal traffic infractions. For instance, a first offense carries a $30 fine, while a second violation within five years of the first will be considered a moving violation and so is punishable by a $60 fine. Finally, drivers who are cited for texting while driving will also have three points added to their driver’s licenses. These same penalties apply to those who are pulled over for texting in a school or construction zone.
Permitted Cell Phone Use
Florida’s new ban on texting while driving only applies to drivers whose vehicles are actually moving. Using a cell phone or another handheld electronic device, however, for other limited purposes, (except in school or construction zones), such as making a phone call or using GPS navigation remains legal. Hands free uses of cell phones is also still permitted.
Although it is hoped that the passage of the new texting law will reduce the number of distracted driving-related accidents in the state, these types of collisions will undoubtedly still occur. Fortunately, injured parties who can prove that another driver’s distraction caused their accident are often eligible to recover damages compensating them for medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. This is true even for accident victims who were partially at fault for an accident, although these individuals’ awards will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault in causing the crash.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Auto Accident Lawyer
If you were involved in an accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you could be eligible for compensation. Please call Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919 today for a free case evaluation.